Thanks to an invitation from the brilliant Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers I decided to try challenge #14 and I'm glad I did. The assignment is as follows: "Week 14: Use a different search engine for your online genealogy research. Google is quite popular, but other search engines may provide different results. Try Yahoo! Search (http://search.yahoo.com/), Bing (http://www.bing.com/), Ask.com (http://www.ask.com/), Dogpile (http://www.dogpile.com/), and even Clusty (http://clusty.com/). Pick an unusual surname and search it in different engines. Make note of the top 10 page returns for each. If you’re a genealogy blogger, share your observations on this experience."
The unusual surname I decided to go with is "Sheils", specifically Margaret Sheils. I chose this name for several reasons. 1)it showed up on a little slip of paper (I seem to have a lot of those) in one of my files in my pile of files; 2) My mother mentioned it as a name she remembers, "a miserable woman with some connection to your father's grandmother"; 3) I think it's a great example of the intersection between oral and written history because the possibilities for spelling are many and varied: Sheil, Sheils, Shiel, Shiels, Shiells, Shield, Shields, ad infinitum.
Google, Yahoo and bing returned similar top ten results. Ask.com was the least useful. Dogpile brought me two useful sites, Irish Echo Online and a fellow researcher with ties to Sheils. The best so far has been from Clusty.com which yielded an Index of Irish Death Notices and The Obituary Daily Times, feeding my penchant for all things sepulchral.